The PC isn’t dead yet

You’ve probably heard how the PC is dead. People are buying up tablets and smartphones, but they are bypassing new desktop computers. Well, ITworld is here to let you know that the rumors of the PC’s death are overblown.

Job’s Quote

Those predicting the death of the PC had a boost when Steve Jobs, before his untimely death, compared PCs to trucks. He said trucks dominated when most people lived rural lives. But now that more people live in cities, cars are more important than trucks. In Jobs’ analogy, PCs are trucks and tablets are cars.

Counterargument

But ITworld claims that Jobs’ argument is flawed. The best-selling vehicle in the United States remains a truck, the Ford F150 pickup. That’s because people still need trucks to get work done. This holds true for PCs: People need them to get work done.

Tablet Limits

Tablets are impressive tools. But they can’t compare to a PC when it’s time to get work done. Try typing a report on a tablet or creating a PowerPoint. That is what PCs do best. And unless all of us plan to stop working, we’ll need those “antiquated” PCs.

Don’t expect much from Windows 8.1

Has Microsoft made Windows 8 much better with its Windows 8.1 tweak? Not really, says David Pogue, tech writer for the New York Times. And in a recent preview of the update, Pogue writes that if you’re not a fan of Windows 8, you most likely won’t like Windows 8.1, as well.

Start still missing

The first problem? Windows 8.1 doesn’t resurrect the much-missed Start menu. Pogue ponders if that is just stubbornness by Microsoft.

Two worlds

Secondly, Windows 8.1 still doesn’t know if it’s a touch-screen or mouse-and-keyboard system. The system’s TileWorld section works the best for touchscreens. But its Desktop section is clearly made to be navigated with a mouse and keyboard. By splitting itself like this, Windows 8.1 doesn’t make anyone happy.

Stick to Windows 7

Pogue’s advice? If you’re not much of a fan of Windows 8, the upgrade won’t do much to change your mind. Stay with the superior Windows 7.

Taking an e-mail break

Tired of returning to work after vacations to see an inbox overflowing with messages? It is possible to reduce this. You’ll simply need a willing helper at the office and some advance planning.

Helper

Jonathan Feldman, a contributing editor at InformationWeek, recommends that prior to taking your trip, you create a partnership with a co-worker. While you’re gone, this worker will handle your e-mail messages, reading them, sorting them and placing them in specially labeled folders. When this co-worker goes on vacation, you’ll handle that person’s e-mail.

Preventive measures

Before your trip, inform your colleagues and friends that you’re going on vacation. Explain that a co-worker is going to be handling your e-mails while you’re gone. And, yes, explain that this means someone else other than you will be reading your e-mail. Make sure to set up your e-mail rules so that your messages go directly to your helper.

The rules

When you return to work, you should be returning to an orderly e-mail inbox. Your helper should have read your messages, placed them in labeled folders based on their importance and left you notes on any e-mails that need your urgent attention. Just remember: When your co-workers go on vacation, you’ll need to do the same for your helper.

Is Office Mobile a good buy?

Excited that Microsoft has finally developed a mobile version of its Office suite of products for the iPhone? Temper your enthusiasm. As Jill Duffy, a tech reviewer for PCMag.com writes, Microsoft’s Office Mobile is probably not worth the money.

Not free

Duffy writes that Office Mobile is an elegant piece of software, one that’s simple to use and understand. The issue, though, is that accessing the program makes it necessary that you get a subscription to Office 365. That will run you a minimum of $99 a year. And that price is way too high, Duffy writes.

Subscription

As Duffy writes, most smartphone users can make use of a collection of free options to handle everything from word-processing to spreadsheets. So why, then, should a consumer invest nearly $100 yearly for Office Mobile?

Shopping

Duffy recommends that users search the Internet for free apps that handle such tasks as word-processing and spreadsheets. Users will probably discover something interesting: The free apps are often just as effective as Office Mobile. And, needless to say, they come at the low, low price of nothing.

Is it time to turn off your tech?

Our gadgets make life easier. Now you can find the address of that new Thai restaurant with your smartphone. You can instantly tell all your friends about your new promotion through Twitter and Facebook. If you don’t have enough time to watch the news, you can read it en route to work on your tablet. But in some cases our gadgets distract us from the “real” world. And in some cases they decrease our productivity. When we ought to be working or thinking, we’re checking our e-mails and sending texts. The New York Times recently asked the question: Would many of us gain from short technology breaks?

Surprising agreement

The Times story concentrated on some highly unlikely supporters of the take-a-tech-break theory: techies themselves. The Times, in fact, presented the case of an author and former Twitter employee. This techie was writing a book. But the constant chirping of his iPhone kept him from concentrating. When this techie ditched the phone, he found that the words flowed. His advice? Ditching the tech can significantly boost productivity.

Growing support

This techie is far from alone. The author of the Times column shines a spotlight on himself. Today, when he and his friends get together for dinner, they immediately toss their smartphones in the middle of the table. The first person who reaches for a phone has to pay the price: That person covers the tab for dinner.

Your turn?

Is it your turn to follow these examples? Should you take a technology break? Have a look at your days: Do you spend hours playing with Words with Friends or Angry Birds? Can you pass an hour without logging into Facebook? Do you text more than you talk? If so, you, too, might gain from a technology break. And you might be surprised at how productive you can be.

Don’t think you need to back up your Evernote notebooks? Think again

How safe do you think your data is when you store them in an Evernote notebook? The surprising answer: Less safe as you might think. That’s because Evernote isn’t a true backup service. It’s a synching service.

Is it really necessary?

You may be wondering: Do I need to back up my Evernote notebooks? How-To Geek would answer with an emphatic “yes!” This is because Evernote isn’t a backup system. It’s a synching system. And in a worst-case scenario, Evernote’s remote file store can be wiped. Then, the local file store can be wiped, too.

Protecting yourself

Fortunately, you can protect yourself fairly easily by backing up your Evernote notebooks. As How-To Geek says, you’ll need an installed copy of Evernote’s desktop application for either Windows or OS X, depending on what kind of computer you use.

Export/import

To do this, right-click on any notebook saved in Evernote. Then select the “Export Notes” option. Then you’re able to export the notebook in any of several formats. If you happen to lose the notebook or the information it includes, you can simply choose to import the previously exported notebook. This will bring in a new version of the notebook that can act as a wholesale replacement for the notebook that you lost.

Hate Windows restarting after updates? Time to stop it

Windows is a living thing: It downloads updates routinely. That’s beneficial, especially when these updates include important anti-virus protections meant to keep your computer safe. But there is a frustrating side effect with these updates: Windows wants to restart your computer after every update.

Stop the restarts

As Lifehacker says, the restarts are an aggravation. Nobody likes seeing that message about your computer restarting in 15 minutes. If you don’t want this to occur, though, you can put an end to it. Tech site Lifehacker recently dealt with how to keep the automatic update on hold.

Editing the registry

Start the disabling process by turning on your computer’s “Start” menu. Open the registry by typing “regedit.” Next, start the registry editor. Now you’ll need to find a specific line in the registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindowsWindowsUpdateAU. Click on the AU key and, when you see it appear in the right pane, right-click on the empty space and select New >DWORD (32-bit) Value. Now, name the new DWORD: “NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers”. Finally, double-click on the new DWORD and give it a value of 1.

Reboot

Once you’ve finished this procedure, Windows won’t automatically restart your computer after its automatic updates. This doesn’t mean, though, you shouldn’t reboot your computer manually in the future. Your Windows updates won’t take effect if you don’t do this. And that could leave your computer and software vulnerable.

Never lose power again with these top battery packs

Planning a vacation? Going to bring your laptop, smartphone or tablet along? You will want to get an external battery pack. These portable units let you plug nearly any device within them. The battery pack will charge them when they start running out of juice. But which external battery packs are best? The tech site Lifehacker recently asked its readers to rate the top battery packs. Here are their three favorites.

Anker Astro

Lifehacker readers chose the Anker Astro as their favorite line of external battery packs. Anker manufactures three packs, the 3E, Pro and E4 versions. Each of these devices are given praise for the powerful charging ability they have. The devices also score points for their portability and reasonable prices.

New Trent

New Trent’s external battery packs – the iCarrier and iGeek – both scored high with Lifehacker readers, too. These models, also, hold a large amount of power, and the devices offer an easy-to-read indicator light that lets you know clearly the amount of charge the battery pack has.

Energizer XP

Energizer is a big name in batteries, so it is little surprise that its XP series of external battery packs ranks high among Lifehacker readers. One of the primary selling points? These units include a wide selection of tips and cables that permit you to charge practically any phone available, even older models.

This isn’t a joke: A MacBook ranks as best Windows laptop

Another humiliation for Microsoft? Looks like it. Following the critical drubbing the company has had for Windows 8, a PC services company has now ranked the 13-inch MacBook Pro as being the laptop that does the best job running Windows software. And, yes, the MacBook Pro is manufactured by Microsoft rival Apple.

The Report

CNET recently reported on a study by Soluto that looked at the frequency of frustrating events on Windows laptops. The study examined everything from crashes to blue screens to hang-ups. The laptop that experienced the fewest of those annoying events? The 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Clean Installation

The main benefit of running Windows on a MacBook? According to Soluto, the Windows programs placed on the machine run cleanly. Simply put, they run as they are advertised.

Crashes Per Week

According to Soluto, the MacBook Pro suffered fewer crashes, hang-ups and blue screens when running Windows software. The MacBook also booted at a faster rate. Just what does this suggest? Only that Microsoft’s rough patch continues.

Do you think Microsoft is going backward with its new logos?

People say that everyone is a critic. You can see this firsthand at the Quora knowledge-sharing Web site. A short time ago, a Quora user took Microsoft to task. This user wasn’t annoyed that Windows 8 was clunky and counter-intuitive. The user wasn’t mad, either, that Internet Explorer didn’t return the best search results. No, this user took Microsoft to task for its lack of artistic ambition. Yes, that’s right.

A Quora Critic

This user believes that Microsoft isn’t putting sufficient time into designing artistic, aesthetically pleasing logos. Instead, the user writes, Microsoft is dashing off simplistic, minimalist logos. These logos, the assertion goes, look like graphics pros dashed them off in five minutes. The user adds that Microsoft is dumbing down their logos since introducing Windows 8 and Office 2013.

The argument

To no one’s surprise – at least to anyone who’s ever used Quora – the user’s argument immediately stirred up debate. A lot of fellow site users stood up for Microsoft, declaring that the logos are actually rather striking in their minimalism. And, indeed, when you look at the logos lined up side by side, the effect is a bit striking. Microsoft’s new, simpler icons, instantly tell you what program you can open by touching them.

A Growing Trend?

The fans of Microsoft’s new logos might be right. The purpose of the icons is to let users know what program will pop up after they click on the icon. And the logos convey this information well. You immediately can recognize which icon will open Microsoft Publisher and which will open Microsoft’s new cloud services. And if a logo does that? Then who cares if it’s simple?